Beyond celebrating the release of his new album, local musician Anthony Worden decided to make his album release show an opportunity to support his community. Worden has been a volunteer with CommUnity Food Bank for nearly a year, and he announced that he will be collecting donations at his upcoming performance after witnessing a recent decrease in food donations coming in.
“I know we all have things in our cupboards that we won’t eat,” Worden said in a Facebook post on February 26. “Let’s make a difference for the many people that CommUnity serves.”
The album release show takes place Friday, February 28th at Gabe’s in Iowa City. Doors open at 9pm. His third full-length album, Voilá, is already available through online streaming services, but attendees who bring a non-perishable food item to donate can also receive 50% off the purchase of a CD or vinyl LP.
The idea of merging his love of performing music with service to the community aligns with his self-described life motto, “make art and ease suffering.” Worden initially started volunteering as a way to give back on his day off from his job. Having used CommUnity’s services in the past when expenses became unmanageable after college, he knows firsthand that food insecurity can happen to anyone.
“When you start working here, you realize that there is a real need for this service,” he said. Worden decided to volunteer at CommUnity in particular because of proximity to his house and a desire to help people, but he found motivation to continue volunteering through the people he met.
“When I first started, there were some really fun people who I was working with—people who were also into the arts, into music,” he said. “If you want to meet new people, definitely volunteer, because you’re going to find some really good people.”
Worden works in the Green Area, which involves stocking shelves and preparing items to go out the next day. He said he enjoys the routine of putting his phone down and focusing on the task at hand.
“It’s a very routine thing, like I know I’m gonna come here for three hours, do this thing, and I’m gonna come out feeling good. And the relationship with the clients is the thing that a lot of people talk about. You see some of the same people, some of the same kids, and it’s really nice to see them and see that they’re taking part in the service and it’s helping them.”
While his work stocking shelves involves less chatting with clients than other positions, such as interviewers, he still manages to have meaningful interactions.
“I guess it’s just fun seeing the same kids hop around and giving them gushers or stickers and seeing them laugh. ‘Cause it can be a scary place or a weird place for kids and if there’s anything I can do to make it less weird, I try to.”
While Worden hasn’t written a song about CommUnity yet, he has found meaning in his experiences as a volunteer.
“I’ve learned that I really like volunteering, I really like helping people out, and it’s something that I always want to do,” he reflected. “I think that every community should have something like this, because it is important, and it is something that people can utilize and it can make their lives better. “
CommUnity offers volunteer opportunities in the Food Bank, Mobile Pantry, and Crisis Intervention programs. Remote opportunities are also available. For more information, visit builtbycommunity.org/volunteer.